The sixteen spectrums that define software “type”

Single user to multi-user

Is the software to be used by just one person, or many people?

Individual to collaborative

Is a person’s experience only theirs, or can many people interact with the same elements at once (even if it’s from more than one device)?

Asynchronous to synchronous

If more than one person interacts through the software, do they do it at different times or at the same time?

Single-culture to multi-culture

Is the software to be used by people from just one culture, or many?

Passive to active use

Does the software add value without any interaction (e.g. an update daemon), or only when it is interacted with?

One-off to ongoing use

Are people expected to use the software just once, or more than once over time?

Practical to promotional

Is the design intended to be used for a practical purpose (e.g. a word processor) or for promotion (e.g. a landing page which sells a product)?

Consumption to creation

Do people use the software to consume content or create it?

Indirect to direct manipulation

Do people interact with elements on the screen indirectly (e.g. keyboard shortcuts) or directly (e.g. pinch to zoom).

Textual to graphical interface

Is the interface all text, or all imagery?

Simple to complex

Does the interface show few elements, or many?

Windowed to full-screen

How much of the screen does/can the interface use?

Single pane to multi-pane

Is the interface a single pane, or split into multiple panes?

Recall-based to recognition-based

Does a user interact through commands they need to remember, or do they browse commands they can recognise and choose from?

Generalist to specialist

Is the software intended to be usable by someone with a general set of knowledge (e.g. bus ticket machine) or a specialist set of knowledge (e.g. surgery support software)?

Single-purpose to multi-purpose

Does the software support a single purpose, or many?